DEFECTING TO NDC AND DEFECTING FROM NDC.
MY REASONS FOR JOINING THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY (NDC)
By Professor (Alhaji) Al-Hassan Wayo Seini
Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen It will be recalled that on September 11, 2000, I quit my position as the elected Second National Vice-Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to concentrate on my academic work and to put a temporary halt to my active participation in politics. Subsequently, on October 1st, 2002, I formally resigned from the NPP for reasons that were well publicized in the media. Privately, I set myself a t here-year target during which I was determined to stay clear of active participation in politics. The three years ended in September 2003 and I began to search for a party to join.
The Search for a Party Even before I started searching for a party on my own, numerous approaches had been made to me, albeit, with promises to join one party or the other. Let me stress that it has never been my nature to serve any political tradition or party with any pre-conditions. I therefore ignored all these approaches and began to search for a party to join based on my own beliefs, perceptions and convictions.
I must admit that in the process of my search for a party I made a lot of consultations with my immediate family, my extended family, my lineage family, friends and many people in the political fraternity. I also did a little bit of research on my own about the political parties in order to assist me to make an informed choice. While I took the advice of so many diverse people into consideration, my decision at the end of the day is based on my own perceptions, convictions and beliefs.
In my search for a party, over the past five months, my father's party in his life, the Convention People's Party (CPP) readily came to my mind. The Dagombas always say that “Bulaa gbali kabli dali koo bandi o yin soli” meaning that it is the day a he-goat's leg is broken that he discovers his way home. My immediate family's links with the CPP has never been in any doubt and I believe it eventually helped my niece, Hajia Adisa Munkaila secure her cabinet Ministerial position in the People's National Party (Limman's) government. Joining the CPP would have been finding my way home. However, it is also a well-known fact that the CPP is the party of my lineage (Andani) family and joining the CPP would have been misinterpreted on the lines of the Dagbon chieftaincy divide. Since I have always advised against chieftaincy and tribal politics, I decided to shy away from my father's party (CPP). For the same reasons and also for the additional reason of my close personal relationship with Dr Edward Mahama, I decided not to join the PNC for fear of been labeled a tribalist, since he is the only Northerner heading a political party.
Two other parties that attracted my considerations were Dan Lartey's GCPP and Dr Wireko-Brobbey's UGM. Dan Lartey's policy of “domestication of production and consumption” was a clear message that could have won an election in any sophisticated democracy. It was and still is a policy that is very attractive to me. The UGM on the other hand appealed to my ideological leanings and its leader is a personal friend and brother. In the end I set both parties aside, principally because politics is not only about large following but also about following your own follower's wishes.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC)
After all the consultations and research, the consensus on both my mind and heart was very clear to me – join the NDC. The reasons were not too far to find. Of the many reasons, however, two stand out clearly:
Unity and Security of the Country
The unity and security of a nation is extremely important for the development of societies. The NDC made both priority areas in its eight-year rule. For Ghana to develop there must be unity in diversity with clear-cut national interests that must be protected by all. Conflict in any area of the country reflects on the international image of the country and scares away investors. It becomes worse when serious crimes are committed and nobody is brought to justice.
I cannot pretend that apart from the national interest, the interest of Dagbon and the North as a whole weighed heavily on my decision to join the NDC. In the case of Dagbon it is clear to me that in NDC all factions of the chieftaincy divide can work together to build permanent peace based on justice. It is a party that has adequate representation of members from all the factions and I believe that my relations with all of them is excellent enough for us to work together for the unity, justice, lasting peace and the development of the only area in the whole wide world we Dagombas can call our own. The NDC, I believe, provides an adequate platform for permanent bridges to be built across the Dagbon chieftaincy divide.
It is also in the NDC that the influence of Northerners is clear for all to see. Analysis indicates that, since independence, it is only during the NDC rule (1992-2000) that the North commanded 26 percent of ministerial positions. This is to be contrasted with only 7.4 percent of ministerial positions for the North in the NPP government. Indeed, the same source indicates that the NDC government had been the most ethnically balanced government since Ghana's independence. I would like to add my voice to my fellow Northerners in the NDC so that together we can work to bridge the yawning gap in the social and economic indicators between the North and the South. This had been the main objective of the Northern Study Group of which I was a member and that also included the late Dr Limman, Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu, the late Prof Kubayanda, Prof John Nabila and many other prominent Northerners.
In stressing Dagbon and the North as a major reason for joining the NDC, it should be noted that I am not engaging in tribal politics but just stressing and reminding all Northerners the objective for which they must be doing politics, the development and not the destruction of the North. In fact, crisis in any part of the North, be it at Yendi, Bimbilla, Bawku, Wa, Nandom or Kpandai or any where else, derails our quest to develop the underdeveloped and poverty-stricken North. In NDC, I see Northerners and Southerners working together to bring about the accelerated development of the North in the supreme overall effort to bring about the total, and not sectional, development of Ghana.
Party for all Ideologies
The second major factor that has attracted me to the NDC is the fact that it is the Party in which all ideologies co-exist peacefully and in the interest of the nation. There are both Nkrumaists and Danquah/Busiasts. It took the ingenuity of one man, His Excellency J. J. Rawlings, to fashion out a party from two main traditions that had in the past been a source of instability in our dear nation. In a world that is rapidly globalizing, and in which democracy has been generally accepted as the modern and civilized means of governance, the NDC has become the modern Party of Ghana in which the two traditions can cross-fertilize the best practices of both ideologies for the benefit of Ghana. I certainly would like to be part and, indeed, will be part of that cross-fertilization from now on.
The NDC ideology of social democracy cuts through the ideological divide that has for a very long time characterized Ghana's politics. It is an all-inclusive ideology that aims at building a society that cares for every person and a society where equal rights, justice and opportunities will be available for all persons. In short, this is a new social democratic agenda that embraces the concept of creating and sharing national wealth equitably, as in Nkrumaism, and the concept of a welfare state in which each will be his brother's (sister's) keeper, as preached by Professor K A Busia.
The NDC ideology also caters for those people with revolutionary fervor. In other words the ideology of the NDC caters for all those who believe in probity and accountability that formed the corner stone of the June 4th revolution in 1979; and for the multitude of cadres, particularly in our rural communities, who believe, and rightly so, that our country can only develop meaningfully from the village level upwards (bottom-up) and not from the top to the bottom. In ideological terms, the NDC has become the party for all people and all people's party.
There are of course many other reasons that make the NDC attractive not only to me but also to many rational observers and analysts. Nobody can lose sight of the fact that the NDC is also the party of the ordinary man and woman. It is the party for both the rural and urban deprived. It is the party for farmers, fishermen, traders, businessmen etc.
The NDC is also a party with humble, honest, dedicated and intellectual leadership. For those of us who travel outside a little bit, we do realize that the leadership of the NDC is also internationally recognized and respected. For all these reasons and many others, I feel proud to be joining the National Democratic Congress today.
Joining Colleagues, Brothers and Sisters
I thank God that I will not be a stranger in NDC circles. In NDC I will be teaming up with colleagues like Prof Atta Mills, Dr Obed Asamoa, Prof Patrick Twumasi, Amissa-Arthur, Tsatsu Tsikata, Kwamena Ahwoi, Dr Josiah Aryeh, E T Mensah, Ama Benyiwa Doe; and brothers and sisters like Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu, Hudu Yahaya, Adam Ibrahim, Martin Amidu, Moses Asaga, Abudulai Salifu, Baba Kamara, Alban Bagbin, Edward Salia, Mohamed Mumuni, John Mahama, Abukari Sumani, Owusu Acheampong, Kwaku Baah, Dr Christine Amoako-Nuamah, Hajia Meri Bofro and many others. With a good array of colleagues, brothers and sisters like these, and many others too numerous to count, it is clear to me that I shall, and will never, ever walk alone in the NDC.
I will like to emphasize and remind all fellow Ghanaians that Ghana needs total peace in every inch of the country in order to develop. Even if we achieve zero rate of inflation and bring down interest rates to single digits, it is the perception of Ghana as a peaceful country based on justice, unadulterated discipline, law and order that will attract the type of investment that is required to develop this dear nation of ours. I believe at the bottom of my heart that it is the NDC that has the requisite composure to guarantee the peace and development of our dear nation.
Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen
I feel no shame to state that I love Dagbon because it is the only piece of land in the whole universe I, and indeed all the people of Dagbon can call our own. I love the North because it gives me the identity that compels me to work towards its accelerated development. Above all, I love my country, Ghana, because it gives me a nationality among a community of nations – a nationality that I am extremely proud of. It is precisely for the preservation of my proud nationality that I join the NDC today – a party that I perceive as the one that can preserve Ghana s a united country in diversity.
Thank you and God Bless Ghana. (March 8th 2004) SPEECH (2)
PERSONAL STATEMENT CROSSING THE CARPET By Prof A Wayo Seini I am making this personal statement under standing order number 72, page 48 which implies that there shall be no debate, comments or points of order by honourable members.
I was elected to this august house under the ticket of the National Democratic Party (NDC). I am grateful to the party for that opportunity. I am particularly grateful to Dr Obed Asamoah, the former national chairman, the constituency chairman of the Tamale central constituency and his entire executive and the branch executives, my brother Alhaji Sumani Zakari, the current northern regional chairman of the NDC and the entire registered voters in the constituency for their support and sacrifices that made it possible for me to become a member of parliament. I also appreciate the cooperation and support of the NDC members of parliament for the short period that we have worked together. To them all, I say thank you very much.
It is, however, with deep regret that I announce my decision to resign from the NDC with effect from today, March 2nd 2006. In doing so, I am mindful of the constitutional provision in Article 97(1)(g) of the 1992 constitution and I do hope that the Speaker will take the necessary steps to inform the Electoral Commission. My main reasons for resigning from the NDC are two-fold: the violence that characterized the NDC congress in Koforidua last December and the lack of internal democracy in the party.
I was welcomed to the conference hall of the EREDEC hotel by a group of thugs who physically attacked me and verbally intimidated me. I was told in plain language that nobody was going to the leave the conference hall safely if Dr Obed Asamoah won the national chairmanship elections. I was also derided for supporting Alhaji Sumani Zakari in his successful bid to become the Regional Chairman of the party in the Northern Region.
Lack of internal democracy within the NDC is the main cause of the intra-party violence. Ambitious members of the party do not see the ballot box as the answer in their quest to hold party office. This was the main cause of the problems associated with the Northern Region congress. Some contestants who felt that they did not have a chance in a free and fair ballot simply wanted to be declared winners with a ballot. Strangely enough, even at the national congress in Koforidua non-official delegates from the Northern Region were made to cast their vote in addition to the official delegates representing the regional executive.
The internal violence which erupted at the NDC national congress underlined the intolerance of dissenting views in the party. The wishes of one man must be fulfilled at all cost even if it means loosing respectable statesmen and women in the party. I need not give examples since everybody who follows the politics of Ghana can at least find one example for himself or herself.
In multi-party democratic systems throughout the world, parties strive to achieve absolute majority in the legislature so that they can smoothly and safely see their programmes through. It is the responsibility of the minority to contribute to debates, in the national interest, so as to enrich the majority side's programmes through criticism and suggestions. In my opinion, taking parliament to the streets by the elected representatives themselves, to my mind, constitutes a great disservice to their constituencies. In doing so, it becomes extremely difficult for history to judge whether eventually the right decision was taken or not since the views of MPs on the minority side will not be captured in the official reports.
Coming back to the Koforidua conference, I would like to state that even God knows that I am not a man of violence. Indeed, I detest violence, I hate violence and I abhor violence. Yet I was so traumatized by the violent reception I had that I scarcely got up from my seat in the frightening twenty-four hours that I sat in the hall. On the few occasions that I got up to visit the gents, I sought the protection of my constituency Chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Yousif Andani and the Northern Regional Organiser, Alhaji Abudulai Silimboma. For twenty-four hours I dared not ventured out, not even for my prayers. I prayed silently throughout for God's deliverance from the conference hall. In the end it took the intervention of Honourable Dr Mohamed Yakubu Al-Hassan (MP for Mion) and the protection provided by my brother, Alhaji Sumani Zakari (the Northern Regional Chairman of NDC) for me to leave the hall and Koforidua safely.
One question I kept on asking myself was “What brought me here?”. It suddenly dawned on me that my life has been like a dream ever since I resigned from my position as National Vice-Chairman of the NPP at the end of my sabbatical in 2000 in order to concentrate on my academic work. Happily, the episode at Koforidua woke me up from my dream and I decided there and then that if I left the conference hall safely, I was going to find my way back home to my party, the NPP, no matter the cost.
Honourable Members of Parliament, if our democratic dispensation is to be well established and stand the test of time, it is your responsibility as the elected preventatives of the people to work hard to jettison violence of all forms. You can succeed in doing so if you start from your own parties. When members of the same party can resort to violence against their own members, I shudder to think about what they are capable of doing against members who do not belong to their party. I also urge honourable members to extend the free debate that takes place in this house to the members of their parties outside the house. I also hope that honourable members will set for themselves a high standard of behaviour inside the house to merit their titles.
I have had nightmares since the Koforidua episode but I thank the All Mighty God that I survived it and to eventually find my way home. Mr. Speaker I will now perform the simple task of crossing the carpet to my mother party. Thank you for your attention.